by Ivan Orozco
As Castle Park’s players listened to team captain post-game speeches Friday night, defensive coordinator, Bing Dawson, approached John Mena and Oscar Espinoza and kissed them on the back of their heads.
Dawson’s kiss may have been a sign of gratitude for the linebacker’s efforts as they gave their best in a 52-14 loss to top ranked Oceanside in a Division II semifinal match up at Patrick Henry High.
Oceanside will face Helix in the championship game on December 14 at Qual-comm stadium.
The Pirates steamrolled a Castle Park defense that often shut down its opponents running game, forced teams to rely on the pass and put pressure on the quarterback.
Anchored by Mena, Espinoza and nose tackle Tommy Sanchez, the Trojans’ defense was devastated by the Pirates’ offensive talent.
“Our big nose tackle went down, Mena may have broken a bone in his leg and Oscar (Espinoza) may have injured his ankle,” Dawson said. “Without that triangle, we couldn’t get to the quarterback.”
Sanchez who is also the staring center, left the game late in the first quarter with an injury adding to the Trojans’ struggles on defense.
After the Trojans (8-4) took a 14-3 lead midway through the second quarter, the Pirates’ offense exploded with 49 unanswered points.
Oceanside answered a 48-yard punt return for a score by Deraun Deadwiler with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Derek Shaw (10 of 17 for 213 yards, four touchdowns, one interception) to Julian Mendez (three catches, 40 yards, two touchdowns) with 4:37 left in the first half.
The Pirates (12-0) would strike two more times in one minute and 16 seconds on four plays. A 43-yard Shaw touchdown pass to Kyle Hill gave the Pirates a 17-14 lead with 1:04 left in the half.
After forcing the Trojans to punt, Oceanside had possession with 11.2 seconds on the clock. Shaw then found Louis Hall on a short cross pattern, Hall romped across the field up the sideline in to the end zone with a 69-yard catch and run with no time left. The Pirates led 24-14 at the half.
The Trojans could not get their offense going and their powerful rushing game was shut down. Castle Park only generated 65 yards on the ground in the second half.
Sanchez’ injury was key to the inability to establish a run game and protect the quarterback.
“He’s (Sanchez) a great player, he matched up well against their nose tackle when they were both sophomores,” said Trojans’ head coach, Paul Van Nostrand. “Oceanside is just a great team -deservingly they were seeded number one in the preseason and they showed why tonight.”